Art in the redwoods at Gualala Arts Center

Feb 13, 2014 / By admin
Posted in Culture Vulture / Good Ideas / Gualala, Mendocino / Travel

Along a delightfully quiet bit of California’s northern coast sits an unexpected cultural hub: Gualala. Too far north for most day trippers, and too far south to borrow the efficiency of the 101 and then cut through Anderson Valley, this spellbinding portion of shoreline is left to those with extra chutzpah, who take the manta “it’s the journey…” literally.

The area is sheltered from the colder ocean gusts that are common in Mendocino County’s namesake town by the arm of land jutting out from nearby Point Arena. Redwood tree spires ascend from Gualala River as you enter town. The Gualala Arts Center is the first right turn if you are arriving from the south on the 1.

The parking lot is itself a gallery, with sculptures from mostly regional artists. Polished steel curves, sloping bricks painted with the unmistakable silhouette of the wise raven, modern totems rise from the… Read more»

The Bay Model, Sausalito’s unexpected treasure

Feb 6, 2014 / By admin
Posted in Culture Vulture / Good Ideas / Magazine / Marin County / North Bay / Travel

It’s uncanny the number of times I’ve mentioned the Bay Model this month. After a recent trip to the un- art galleried end of Sausalito, where the hangar-size building sits, the miniature construction of the regions waterways has been imprinted on my mind. I can’t cross the Bay Bridge without thinking of the range of water depths below; I can see the little tags whispering up and down as the tide ebbs on the model.

The Army Corps of Engineers created and relied upon this exact Bay Model for years before computer systems had sufficient technology to keep the water level safe. Boat traffic, radio signals, flood control, and water management are just a few of the systems which rely upon the model, keeping citizens blissfully unaware of the forces around them, keeping us safe.

Creating the model also gave us a picture of our environment, and today at… Read more»

The Beginnings of Bergerac

Sep 25, 2013 / By Serena
Posted in Good Ideas / Night Owl / San Francisco

A night out in San Francisco wouldn’t be the same without a well-made cocktail. Sure, there’s every segment of libation personality in the City by the Bay – the Pabst-in-the-front-yarders, the champagne-onlys, the microbrew geeks, the hardcore whiskey buffs – but my personal favorite, lately, anyway, are surely the proper ice set. Within this dynamic bunch are many shades of bartenders whose attention to detail elevates even the grittiest of strong drinks.

Enter Bergerac, a new addition to what I now call the Folsom “curve” end of Soma on 11th. The attractive bohemian space at 316 11th is enlivened by an equally appealing line up of internationally-inspired cocktails, all mixed with the perfect ice. My utterly Spanish ‘Red Medicine’ – a blend of peppery red wine, Mexican Coke, and a sparkling dose of housemaid cinnamon syrup – included an alluring display of ice-chipping off a pristine counter-top block.… Read more»

The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Powerful Spirit of Michael Tilson Thomas

Sep 23, 2013 / By Serena
Posted in Culture Vulture / Good Ideas / Magazine / San Francisco / Travel

On Friday, I gratefully played audience for a deeply stirring performance of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and its spirited conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas. They resurrected Mahler’s 9th Symphony, a piece so rich and formidable that Mahler named a previous symphony Das Lied von der Erde in order to avoid reaching the fateful 9th (in actuality it is his 10th symphony, although it is never called that.) Beehtoven and Bruckner before him had written intensely powerful 9th Symphonies, and these had both been their last. Mahler, the fiery genius, wanted life! Especially in the last two movements, his gesture for eternal presence is exposed in the music in a gracefully triumphant mirroring of strings and woodwinds, sumptuous chords, and bold restraint where but a few notes are played. I could imagine Mahler himself, reaching toward light, beaconing an ongoing use of his sublime skill as a conduit for transforming spirit into sound.

Michael… Read more»

Recipe: Poached Seckel Pears

Sep 13, 2013 / By Serena
Posted in Featured / Food / Good Ideas / Kitchen Adventures

Having the last name Bartlett, I have a natural-born fondness for pears. It makes sense. One of my favorites that’s commercially grown, thus widely available, is the sweet little seckel. (Sorry Bartletts!) They are sweet – you’ll sometimes find them labeled sugar pears – and they have a dense flesh. I’ve been told they are one of the few truly American pears, other popular types being derived from European cultivars.

It is hard to top a perfectly-ripe pear in its simplicity for a snack or for dessert, but seckels lend themselves to some marvelous kitchen transformations, too. I once made a glazed frangipane tart with extra crumbly, buttery dough, and used poached seckels on top and the thickened juice from their cooking for the glaze. (pictured above)

Poaching them is simple. Any people who aren’t in love with the pear flesh texture will change their mind when they are prepared this… Read more»